Blog, picky eaters

Encouraging the Palate: My Philosophy

0 Comments 21 August 2012

My babies are my best accomplishment ever, and I’m devoted to giving them nourishing food.  Eating well is a value that I hold dear for my family.  I’m not a fanatic, nor a radical, nor a purist.  I wholeheartedly believe in wholesome, nutritious food.  My previous training as a nutritionist and food professional has given me insight and knowledge but it is my role of mother that is paramount.

I’m a practical mom who has implemented some strategic decisions that impact my family’s health and well-being.  Like many of you, I use natural and organic foods as much as I can, where it makes sense, and where it’s economical.  We have reduced our consumption of meats and purchase only organic, natural, sustainable and local as much as possible.  Additionally,  processed foods are minimized as much as possible.  Truthfully, as a busy mom, there is no way to eliminate all processed foods unless you are making everything from scratch.  And if you’re doing that, well, I applaud you and frankly don’t know how you find the time!

Many times a homemade version of a food item is less expensive and healthier.  It just takes a little extra time and planning. For example, my kids love hash browns and pancakes.  Both items are a cinch to make, so why not save the moolah.  The BEST part is that you know exactly what is in your food!  No preservatives, colors, and random chemicals.  Don’t get me wrong, not all processed foods are evil.  And if you think that they are, then let me know how you plan to rid the toddler world of Goldfish crackers?!   Those orange little wonders have extinguished many a tantrum during grocery shopping trips.  Desperate means call for desperate measures, right?!  But that’s when I’m at my wits end.  Goldfish are a processed food don’t be fooled.  And yes, I have to do the grocery shopping with the kids en tow.  It bites.  Additionally, what would this world be without Nutella?  I’m certainly not giving that up.  And I don’t make my own puff pastry.  You get the picture, right?

For me it’s about balance.  To feed your kids well, you need to be armed with knowledge, time, and have both a shopping strategy/list and a meal/snack plan.  The most insidious constraint that I have is time.  Fortunately, I love cooking for my family.  The moral of the story is: I’m a work-in-progress-mom who does the best she can.  Sometimes I rock it.  Other times, not so much.

I don’t have a soapbox to get on.  If I did, I would talk the alarmingly high rate of obesity amongst our nations children.  I don’t have the answers, but I have a lot of ideas.  And I have control over what my family eats.  That means no soda.  No Doritos.  No you’re not having a third doughnut.  Before you start to think I am neurotic, I do believe in enjoying life and especially childhood!  It’s okay to have ice cream for dinner if it’s been that kind of day (all natural ice cream please!).  It’s okay to have a third cookie…if you ate a wholesome meal and the cookies are home made with real ingredients.  See, that’s not so bad.

I do not have the magical elixir for raising little epicures.  As my babies grow, I already see the creeping effects of peer influences and marketers; they erode my efforts to encourage good eating habits.  Pft.  Even so, we parents are the best example for our children!  I really believe that most practical approach to raising children who enjoy and appreciate good, wholesome foods is by MODELING THE BEHAVIOR for them.  No rocket science involved, I swear.

Here are some quick tips for encouraging the palate:

Eat what you want them to eat – modeling

Enjoy your food – attitude is everything

Learn about foods and nutrition.  Talk about it to create interest.  This includes when you are away from the kitchen.

Give them their own child-oriented cookbook.

Prepare meals together.

Let them choose foods in the grocery store, at the farmers market and at home.

Give foods fun kid names, for example instead of brocolli, call it “Crazy Trees”

Eat together as a family.  I’m a firm believer in the powerful nature of a family dinner!

Use the grocery store as a fun outing.  The produce section is alluring with lots of fresh items and colors.

Get excited – hone your thespian skills and talk up dishes you love or want your kids to love.

 

It will rub off on them like magic, especially if you start while they are little.  Sure, it might take a while, maybe even years for some children (I’ve got one of those), but it WILL happen.

There are numerous benefits to teaching kids about food and cooking.  It involves following directions and fine and gross motor skills, paramount to toddlers and preschoolers.  It also touches global culture, math, science, nutrition, social studies, art, nutrition, geography, history, music, and reading.  Very cool.  Encouraging my children’s palates is never forced.  Right now, I’ve got one picky eater who has come a long way.  She used to abhor new foods.  Now, she’s much more open.  We also have a rule that if you think you don’t like something on your plate, you have to take at least one bite.

The key, I believe, is continued exposure to new items and a positive attitude.  Parents, you have much more power than you know!

 

 

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